Dive Brief:

  • Heineken USA and Hornell Brewing Company, affiliated with Arizona Beverages, are introducing Arizona Sunrise Hard Seltzer, the companies said in a statement.
  • Arizona Sunrise will launch in the first quarter of 2021. The new offering has a splash of real fruit and comes in four flavors: Mucho Mango, Cherry Punch, Lemon and Grapefruit. 
  • Heineken is the latest beer company to broaden its reach in the fast-growing hard seltzer category. Molson Coors announced last month it would be the exclusive manufacturer, marketer and distributor of Coca-Cola’s Topo Chico Hard Seltzer in the U.S. when it launches next year. Other big alcohol companies, including Constellation Brands and AB InBev, have also entered the category.

Dive Insight:

As hard seltzer has upended the once stagnant alcohol space, nearly every major beer company with a presence in the U.S. has introduced at least one of these products. As beer sales are struggling across most categories, hard seltzer brings a meaningful opportunity to increase sales. 

Nielsen reported in June that explosive growth in hard seltzer hasn’t slowed down. Off-premise sales for the 52 weeks ended June 13 were up 127%. The category continues to be dominated by two players: Mark Anthony Brands’ White Claw and Truly, owned by Boston Beer. These two brands have a combined market share of more than 75%, the data analytics company found.

But their dominance hasn’t stopped other companies from entering the space. Even soda giant Coca-Cola, which has largely eschewed alcoholic beverages, is entering the category through its partnership with Molson Coors.

Gavin Hattersley, CEO of Molson Coors, has vowed to use hard seltzer as a way to help revive the company’s sluggish growth. The maker of Coors Light and Blue Moon spent millions to create Vizzy, a hard seltzer made with acerola cherry, a superfruit with 30 times more vitamin C per cup than an orange. 

“We believe the seltzer category is here to stay,” Hattersley​ told analysts last year.

Beer giant AB InBev, buoyed by Bud Light Seltzer, among other offerings, said last year it would invest $100 million into hard seltzer. 

Heineken has been quickly working to expand its presence in hard seltzers. In addition to the launch of the Arizona Sunrise Hard Seltzer, Heineken also recently announced a new line of premium Mexican flavored hard seltzers called Canijilla, and Bask, a new IPA-style hard seltzer brand

Both of those offerings are only available in limited releases, so Heineken could benefit from a hard seltzer with a broader reach. And with Sunrise sporting the Arizona label rather than Heineken, it gives the beer manufacturer another shot on goal in the ultra-competitive hard seltzer segment.

In announcing Sunrise, the companies touted Arizona’s knowledge of the beverage industry along with Heineken’s strong relationships with distributors and extensive manufacturing and brand building expertise in alcohol. 

While Arizona is best known for its canned 99-cent iced teas, the family-owned company has been slowly working to add new products to its portfolio. Arizona and Dixie Brands, a Denver-based cannabis company, entered into a partnership last year for the production, distribution and sale of cannabis-infused products including THC. The date for a product launch has not been announced.

With consumers spending more time at home, a trend that is likely to continue to some degree once the pandemic has abated, having a hard seltzer offering in the game could help Arizona move beyond iced tea. It also gives consumers more reasons to reach for its product throughout the day, with a tea in the afternoon or a hard seltzer and eventually a cannabis drink in the evening.

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